Top 9 employee sustainability initiatives to try this year
Updated: Oct 13
A 2020 study by Reuters revealed that 65% of knowledge workers are more likely to work for a company if it has strong environmental policies. In fact, environment and climate change are the primary concern for Gen Z. As they gradually occupy a larger percentage of the workforce, companies will need to integrate sustainability into their core values and goals.
Implementing green employee sustainability initiatives in the workplace may appear a little intimidating at first. However, there are numerous ways to encourage sustainable behaviours in the office without incurring significant costs.
A few simple changes for a more sustainable, green workplace culture will drastically minimise your company's carbon footprint. Research conducted by UCLA professors Delmas and Pekovic also found that sustainability plays a pivotal role in employee productivity and motivation.
We’ve scoured the web and spoken with experts to put together the top 9 employee sustainability initiatives you can try in 2022 to build a sustainable workforce.
1. Make it pay to be green
One of the significant factors of employee engagement sustainability is to make it a continuous process. You can make your co-workers genuinely interested in practising green initiatives by employing proper reward systems and recognition mechanisms.
Research by Think Smart found that companies using incentive programs report a 79% success rate in achieving their goals when the correct reward is given. Though not specific to sustainability related goals, evidence shows that an appropriate award possesses the ability to motivate and engage employees.
Financial rewards are one example of a ‘green incentive’, linking environmental performance to the compensation every employee receives, effectively turning the company’s sustainability goals into a part of everyone’s job. This type of incentive was introduced by chip manufacturing giant Intel, who saw emissions go down by 35% on an absolute basis.
Another incentive type can be a points system, which allows employees to donate to a charity based on how many ‘green points’ they have accrued.
2. Reduction of kitchen waste in the office
Food waste and other trash generated in office kitchens contribute significantly to carbon emissions.
Consider installing an office composting system in your company's kitchen and hiring a group to come to pick up and repurpose at-risk food to reduce food waste.
Providing reusable plates and utensils, purchasing recycled and compostable napkins and other disposables, and adding a water tap filtration system to encourage people to drink tap water are different ways to reduce office kitchen waste.
Employee engagement is important to manage kitchen waste in the office. If each employee is given the proper training, sustainability and green initiatives become more achievable.
3. Transportation systems used by employees to go to work
Personal automobiles are one of the most significant sources of carbon emissions. If everyone in your office drives their car to work, your company's carbon footprint will increase.
So, what can you do to lessen your employees’ commute carbon footprint? Employees should consider taking public transportation or carpooling.There should be incentives for employees to purchase electric automobiles as an employee sustainability engagement initiative. In developing countries, electric two-wheelers are a great choice of transport for employees.
Employers can start a carpooling system for their employees. The organisation can save on costs and effort and reduce CO2 emissions. If organising your carpool system becomes difficult, a concierge service can help you or your staff receive the best bargain. Subsidising employees' public transportation costs may be the simplest approach.
4. Reduce business travel
Employee travel is one of the greatest contributors to corporate carbon emissions and according to Reuters, about 90% of business travel emissions are from air.
Meetings, seminars, and other activities are sometimes unavoidable but instead of flying across the nation to see a customer or partner, you can easily switch over to video conferencing solutions.
If you must travel for a conference or another event, consider how you may make your journey more ecologically friendly. When you need to drive, rent a hybrid or electric vehicle. Alternatively, fly on carriers dedicated to decreasing and offsetting carbon emissions.
Another sustainability employee engagement technique is to provide employees with the gift of Capture. Check out how you can help your employees reduce CO2 with the Capture app today.
5. The 3R's
Reduce, reuse and recycle. These three Rs can help you minimise your carbon impact at work.
For starters, you can cut down on office waste by minimising your use of paper and disposable items. If you don't have to, don't print. Because it's now easier than ever to generate and even sign critical papers online, you shouldn't need to print as frequently as you formerly did.
Instead of purchasing brand new electronic devices, such as laptops and other IT equipment, offices can reuse goods that are already in use by purchasing refurbished electronic gadgets.
Finally, make every effort to recycle as much as possible. This includes paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, electronics, and almost anything else you no longer require.
Most organisations adopt these techniques for sustainable employee engagement.
6. Switch off the lights when not needed
At the end of every working day, turn off all electric items, including lighting, heating, and air conditioning, and make sure the last person out of the building does so.
Furthermore, it may not be necessary to have all of the lights on during the day, so be mindful of electricity usage and turn off lights in empty meeting rooms and corridors. If your budget allows, consider sensor-activated lighting, which will help save energy (and the environment) and save you money in the long term. 7. Educate your workforce
Your workforce must have the proper education for employee engagement sustainability. Organise workshops and employee engagement sustainability programs.
Leading companies including Apple and Unilever already organise such workshops every year to educate and motivate their workforce about the harm that CO2 emissions cause their beloved planet and how to battle it. Your organisation can do the same as well.
8. Organise healthy competitions
Why not develop quarterly green challenges with your team to get everyone on board and enthused about green workplace initiatives?
Bring your coffee to work, commute by bike day, use less fuel day, and bring your food in a wax wrap day. You could even create a leaderboard for green challenges and reward your personnel with a monthly 'greenest employee' award.
9. Co-create sustainable practices with employees
A recent survey about employee engagement strategies showed that giving your employees a voice in creating the company’s sustainability programme is one of the most effective ways to keep them engaged. When employees are given the opportunity to create your company’s sustainability initiative rather than having directives handed down from on high, you’ll have automatic buy-in.
One of the best ways to do this is to form a green team. A green team will give your employees a place to share their ideas and make decisions regarding which ones to implement.
You can also look at other ways of getting input, whether it be from having people share ideas during staff meetings or by sending out an employee survey.
What are your employee sustainability initiatives for your organisation? Tell us on our LinkedIn channel or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.